Joint anti-pandemic efforts of China and Russia have provided new impetus to enhance their strategic cooperation
China and Russia, which are geographically connected, have developed good neighborly ties and become all-round strategic partners. The two countries have extended strong support to each other since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
Major infectious diseases are the enemy of all. The sudden outbreak of the novel coronavirus has shown the lives and health of peoples of all countries are more closely connected than ever before. Since all humans live in the same global village as a community with a shared future, all countries are in the same boat facing the challenges posed by the virus. Solidarity and cooperation are the most powerful weapons against the pandemic.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has had several telephone conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin on strengthening cooperation and coordination in pandemic prevention and control, which has demonstrated the high-level strategic communication and cooperation between the two countries.
Russia provided sincere assistance and support for China during the most difficult stage of Chinas struggle against the virus. Amid the global spread of the virus, China has also assisted Russia with medical supplies as its capacity allows, and facilitated the latters procurement of urgently needed supplies in the Chinese market. China and Russia have supported and defended each other against unreasonable claims by certain countries, forging an impregnable fortress against the "political virus" that has infected some countries.
The China-Russia anti-pandemic campaign has injected fresh impetus into efforts to advance the high-level development of the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination between the two countries. While Russia is making all-out efforts to prevent and control the spread of the virus, China is facing the pressure of a reemergence of the virus.
Both sides are exchanging their experiences, carrying out pandemic information sharing as well as cooperating on vaccine research and development and taking the opportunity of anti-pandemic cooperation to build a China-Russia community of health and promote their comprehensive strategic partnership.
Since President Xi first proposed the Belt and Road Initiative, it has been steadily advanced with notable progress and entered a new phase of high-quality development. And despite the impact of the pandemic, the initiative has still shown strong growth momentum as Chinas trade with countries and regions along the Belt and Road routes and its investment in them continue to grow rapidly.
According to Chinas General Administration of Customs, Chinas trade with countries participating in the initiative totaled 3.49 trillion yuan ($493.7 billion) from January to May, up 9 percent year-on-year, 4.9 percentage points higher than Chinas overall trade growth. Data from the Ministry of Commerce showed that the non-financial direct investment of Chinese enterprises in 54 countries involved in the initiative reached $6.53 billion over the same period, up 16 percent year-on-year.
In light of this, the initiative has provided strong driving forces for international cooperation which are producing broad prospects for development.
As an important partner in the construction of the initiative, the Eurasian Economic Union with its five member states－Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia－has set a model example for the international community on jointly developing the initiative with China. Since Xi and Putin signed the Joint Statement on Cooperation on the Construction of Joint Eurasian Economic Union and the Silk Road Projects in 2015, the cooperation based on the alignment of the initiative with the Eurasian Economic Union has been steadily furthered with China-Russia cooperation making fruitful achievements in key areas such as trade, energy, agriculture, transportation, telecommunications, the digital economy and financial cooperation, laying a solid foundation for developing a high-level economic partnership in Eurasia.
The agreement on trade and economic cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Union and China, which took effect in October last year, has also provided an important institutional guarantee for the mutually beneficial cooperation and constructive dialogue between the two sides on their economic and trade relations.
The alignment of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union has become a new engine for regional economic development and cooperation.
China is now the largest trading partner of the Eurasian Economic Union and an important driving force for economic growth in the region. According to data released by the Eurasian Economic Commission, Chinas trade with the Eurasian Economic Union accounted for 29.3 percent of the latters total foreign trade in the first four months of this year, 21 percentage points higher than the proportion of the Eurasian Economic Unions trade with Germany, its second-largest trading partner.
As this year marks the fifth anniversary of the signing of the joint statement, China and Russia need to take this opportunity to actively promote the alignment of the initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union to inject new impetus into regional integration and economic development.
Amid the sharp contraction in global trade caused by the pandemic, economic and trade cooperation between China and Russia has maintained sound development. Data from Chinas General Administration of Customs show that the trade volume between the two countries increased by 2.9 percent year-on-year from January to April. In this period, Chinas imports from Russia increased by 10.1 percent while Russia has been among the three largest trading partners of China along the Belt and Road routes for four consecutive months.
China is willing to continue to improve its all-around cooperation with Russia, work jointly with the latter to turn crises into opportunities, inject new impetus into economic development of the two countries amid pandemic prevention and control, create more opportunities for mutually beneficial regional economic and trade cooperation and create new driving forces for the global economic recovery.
The author is the president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the president of the Council on China-Russia Strategic Coordination at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.